The Russian Space Agency says it will have to decommission the Mir space station in February 2000 and take it out of orbit due to the "need to contribute to the International Space Station [ISS] and the failure of efforts to find alternative private funding".

Mir, which has been in orbit since 1986, will be abandoned by the present three-man crew in August and left under automatic control until a controlled burn can move the station into a descent into the Pacific Ocean.

Russia has not lost hope of finding funds to continue operations. "If the funding problem is solved, the orbital station will be back at work," says the space agency.

NASA has been pressing Russia to take Mir out of orbit and concentrate on the ISS.

Source: Flight International